Tucson Brings Hyundai Advances to Compact SUV

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CHATHAM, Mass. – The completely redesigned and reengineered 2022 Hyundai Tucson puts the Korean automaker into the top echelon of compact sport utility (SUV) producers. And at $38,600 for the extremely well-equipped Tucson Limited Hybrid AWD (all-wheel drive) I spent the week driving, it represents solid value within this very competitive market segment.

Inside and out, great for going for a ride

The new Tucson sits on a new global platform which resulted in a compact SUV larger than its predecessor but virtually the same size as segment leaders like the Toyota Rav4 and Honda CRV (all within a fraction of an inch of 182-inches long, 73-inches wide and 66-inches tall).

The passenger and cargo compartment within the new creased, angular-styled SUV, with LED running lights integrated into the new grille, is roomy, comfortable and filled with technological features, conveniences and amenities. Large windows, a panoramic sunroof and clever interior design create a spacious, airy cabin.

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The interior offers three new technologies, including a 10.25-inch full-touch navigation screen exempt of hard buttons, a 10.25-inch hoodless digital gauge cluster, and multi-air ventilation, a temperature-adjusting system providing diffused airflow to the front passengers. This indirect, diffusing ventilation system reduces potentially unpleasant airflow and is unique in the automotive industry.

The leather-covered front seats are heated and ventilated, electrically adjustable (driver’s with memory) and the leather-covered steering wheel is also heated and can be adjusted for reach and rake. The rear leather-covered seats, split 60/40 for handling multiple people/cargo challenges, are also heated in this Limited version.

Dual-zone automatic climate control working with the new ventilation system keeps the cabin’s environment comfortable and, once learned, the touch controls on the digital display work well.

The 10.25-inch touch screen navigation system forms the centerpiece of the infotainment system which features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; streaming Bluetooth audio; SiriusXM satellite radio; HD radio and sound pumped out by an eight-speaker Bose premium audio system.

Connectivity plays a role in the Hyundai Tucson. You can use the proximity key (fob) to unlock the car simply by approaching, and then pushing the “start” button to activate the powertrain (silent upon start up as virtually all electric or hybrid vehicles are). Or activate the Hyundai Digital Key app and turn your Android smartphone into the SUV’s key.

The Digital Key app also allows smartphones to control selected vehicle systems remotely. Users can lock and unlock the vehicle, activate the panic alert and start the engine. Digital Key allows owners to leave traditional keys at home and allows secure sharing of keys with family and friends.

Two USB ports in the front and two in the rear help keep everyone’s mobile devices charged and ready.

The entire package is a comfortable, friendly environment for a long drive, a quick dash to the store or hustling through some interesting curving roads.

Hybrid powertrain including AWD and the new platform

The Tucson may not be a sport sedan, but the engineers developed a solid, sure-footed platform, one enhanced in hybrid versions thanks to the new e-handling technology.

Tucson hybrid models (and Hyundai offers a plug-in hybrid as well as the version I drove) feature Hyundai’s e-handling technology, which precisely applies electric motor torque control according to dynamic inputs and road conditions to improve cornering performance for a new level of fun-to-drive dynamics.

As the Tucson hybrid turns-in to a corner, the electric motor system applies precise incremental braking force to the front wheels, increasing their tire contact patch on the road surface for enhanced traction and steering response while initiating turn-in. Then, as the vehicle moves to exit the corner, the electric motor applies precise torque to the rear axle, increasing the rear tire contact patches for enhanced traction and control accelerating out of the corner.

And it works! Hustling through the twisty roads from the Atlantic Ocean to the center of Wellfleet and then through the backroads of that Cape Cod town and its neighbor Truro was fun; this SUV was a joy to drive when pushed.

Providing the oomph was the combination of a 1.6-liter four-cylinder turbocharged gasoline engine and 44.2-kilowatt electric motor which combined to produce 226 horsepower and 258 pounds-feet of torque.

The power flowed to the road through a six-speed automatic transmission and, for the first time in a Hyundai hybrid SUV, through the standard Hyundai HTRAC® AWD system. The driver-selectable HTRAC Normal, Sport, Smart and Snow modes help provide confident control in all weather conditions. I did not get to experience the Snow mode, but the Sport one did sharpen the vehicle’s handling characteristics when I pushed it through the curves.

The brake system features four-wheel power-assisted discs (ventilated 12.8 inches up front, solid 12 inches in the rear) along with anti-lock (ABS) with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), downhill-brake control, hill-start-assist control, brake assist and electronic parking brake.

Hyundai Smart Sense just the beginning  for this vehicle’s ADAS

Comprehensive is an understatement when discussing the extensive range of advanced driver-assist systems (ADAS) standard in the Hyundai Tucson Hybrid Limited.

Hyundai Smart Sense, standard on all levels of Tucson, includes:

Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA) w/ Ped and Cyclist Detection
Lane Keeping Assist (LKA)
High Beam Assist (HBA)
Driver Attention Warning (DAW)
Rear Occupant Alert (ROA)
Intelligent Speed Limit Assist (ISLA)
Leading Vehicle Departure Alert (LDVA)

The fully equipped Limited version adds:

Blind-Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist (BCA)
Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist (RCCA)
Smart Cruise Control (SCC) with Stop & Go
Surround View Monitor
Blind-spot View Monitor
Parking Distance Warning – Forward and Reverse
Parking Collision Avoidance Assist – Reverse (PCA-R)

A solid value-package

I have discovered the hybrid versions of compact SUVs get great gas mileage and the Tucson continued the tradition. The federal Environmental Protection Agency rates it at 37 miles per gallon in city and combined city/highway driving, 36 on the highway – I got 43.5 mpg with a third of my driving coming on the highway and much of the rest with a heavy foot on the accelerator.

The Hyundai Tucson Limited Hybrid AWD fits right in with the other leaders in the compact-SUV segment in terms of price, fuel economy and room, but as the newest member of the group, it has the most modern features and technology.

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I realize this sounds repetitive because every review I write about a Hyundai family (Hyundai, Kia and Genesis) I talk about how terrific the vehicle is; how far Hyundai has come since it began selling cheap, small sedans here in 1986. I do it because it is true. The Korean firm now produces cars, minivans and SUVs, like this 2022 Hyundai Tucson Limited Hybrid AWD, which can go toe-to-toe with anything in its market segments!

Next week TBR Drives the Subaru Crosstrek Sport.

Mike Geylin
Mike Geylin

Mike Geylin is the Editor-in-Chief at Hagman Media. Geylin has been in automotive communications for five decades working in all aspects of the industry from OEM to supplier to motorsports as well as reporting for both newspapers and magazines on the industry.